Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Labor's Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome: Feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor...
An interesting article from early August at Truthout about union capitulation to their own destruction ------ the frog in the boiling water. That goes along with a recent ed notes post: Jacobin: Labor’s Neoliberal Caucus Capitulation - Randi and Crew Are Charter Members.

This is a traditional left analysis calling for union solidarity instead of narrow unionism looking out solely for the interests of its members. This is tricky ground.
An extreme example is the Wisconsin trooper and firefighter unions endorsing Scott Walker's 2010 bid for governor, and being subsequently carved out of Walker's infamous, union-destroying Act 10.
Interesting -- police and fire make a separate deal to screw everyone else.

Some more excerpts:
Wednesday, 03 August 2016 00:00 By Andrew Tillett-Saks, Truthout | Op-Ed
In the 2016 Democratic primary, US labor unions overwhelmingly endorsed Hilary Clinton and invested millions of dollars in ensuring her nomination. Few eyebrows were raised, despite Clinton's questionable record and platform towards workers. Why not? Organized labor's support for political enemies of unions and workers is so common it has become expected. The labor movement suffers from a political Stockholm syndrome, embracing the very politicians who attack them. The embrace of Hillary Clinton, openly hostile to the current campaigns of some of the very unions who endorsed her, exposes the self-destructive absurdity of the situation. An intervention is needed or unions will be hard-pressed to reverse their current decline if they do not shake the Stockholm syndrome and adopt different political strategies.

The second rationale used for endorsing anti-worker candidates like Clinton is a narrow transactionalism -- unions cut a deal with the candidate, exchanging their support for a concession to their individual union. An extreme example is the Wisconsin trooper and firefighter unions endorsing Scott Walker's 2010 bid for governor, and being subsequently carved out of Walker's infamous, union-destroying Act 10. Other common examples include building trades unions securing Project Labor Agreements, service sector unions extracting guarantees of organizing neutrality agreements on forthcoming development projects, and public sector unions obtaining concessions in their contract negotiations.
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/37081-labor-s-political-stockholm-syndrome-why-unions-must-stop-supporting-anti-labor-candidates-in-primaries

 the pro-Clinton labor leaders argue that electing a genuinely pro-worker candidate is impossible in the current political context, so better to support the moderate candidate and pray for some reciprocation than to be left with nothing but powerful enemies when the pro-worker candidate inevitably loses. They are simply being "practical." Second, labor leaders often negotiate a concession for their own union in exchange for their endorsement, celebrating a narrow victory while claiming a realpolitik strategy of transactionalism. Both rationales are misguided.
Many unions took up the first rationale and endorsed Clinton in the primaries on the premise that Sanders couldn't win. A closer look at the evidence unveils a self-fulfilling prophecy; labor itself likely could have swung the nomination to Sanders.

The second rationale used for endorsing anti-worker candidates like Clinton is a narrow transactionalism -- unions cut a deal with the candidate, exchanging their support for a concession to their individual union. An extreme example is the Wisconsin trooper and firefighter unions endorsing Scott Walker's 2010 bid for governor, and being subsequently carved out of Walker's infamous, union-destroying Act 10. Other common examples include building trades unions securing Project Labor Agreements, service sector unions extracting guarantees of organizing neutrality agreements on forthcoming development projects, and public sector unions obtaining concessions in their contract negotiations.
The narrow transactionalism rationale exhibits the same shortsightedness that has haunted US unions for over a century. Failure to think as a class, as the proponents of working people in general, and focusing instead only on the narrow interests of their immediate members, is the misguided strategy that has repeatedly weakened unions and brought about its current near-death experience.

Selling out the rest of the working class in the name of a union's own members -- the essence of the "narrow-transactionalism" political strategy -- never has worked and never will. Ironically, when unions only "look out for their own members," they doom these very members to eventual slaughter. As unions fight only for improvements on an ever-shrinking island of union workers, they eventually drown in the rising tide of non-union poverty and powerlessness.
Unions must stop supporting politicians who brutalize working class communities, gut public education, abolish social welfare programs, redistribute wealth upwards by fighting higher wages and raising corporate subsidies, privatize public services and criminalize Blacks and Latinos.

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